The first time I came across the name David Hunter, I was winding down a publishing gig of my own. I read about this Hunter guy taking the lead of a new local title called The Drive Magazine, and I remember thinking: “good luck pal, you’re going to need it.” I would not be the first or last person to short sell David Scott Hunter. Nor could I ever imagine that before the decade was out, Dave Hunter would irrevocably change my life simply by doing what Dave always did: putting other people first, linking them together, and selflessly doing the kind of things a good dude does.
Six years later in 2007, and fresh from a sudden and unexpected career hiccup, I was driving up the 401 on an early Friday morning, taking our young lads to a hockey tourney in Toronto. I humbly asked the Big Guy for a sign, or something of sorts, for what I should do next. Something else in automotive? Go back to media/publishing? Something altogether new? Within minutes, in one of those surreal moments life sometimes deals, the transport in front of me switched lanes, leaving another directly in view. And on its back door were the letters D-R-I-V-E. While I knew this to be a local transport company, I wasn’t about to question the advice. That Sunday, I e-mailed Dave Hunter, who responded in 30 minutes. Two days later I was part of The Drive team. More so, a lasting friendship began with one of the most unique, funniest (no kidding!), caring, driven, loving, and just flat-out good people I’ve ever known.
My God, the times we had those two years driving The Drive! Too many to recite here, and almost all involving that one-of-its-kind “Hunter humour.” One though, sums up Hunts in spades: Interviewing Mike Holmes (he of the Do it Right fame) at his Toronto studio for the issue we put him on the cover, and Hunts standing where only I could see him, tongue out and one hand flashing the classic Hunts “rock on” gesture……while the other, of course, was grabbing his crotch. Mike Holmes to me: “Something wrong?” No Mike, just the normal kind of things with my crazy friend!
In those “never-a-dull-moment” days, Dave and I grew close, kindred media spirits that we were. I marveled at his never-ending passion for the magazine. It seems too obvious to state: “The Drive was David Hunter, and David Hunter was The Drive.” But there is simply no better way to describe what The Drive meant to the Man. Through thick and thin, Hunts never gave up on the magazine, even when he had every right to. Through it, he tirelessly promoted Windsor and Essex County for more than twenty years: its people, communities, businesses, events, and charitable causes, helping raise millions for the latter. Hunts was always grateful for the lengthy list of writers, photographers, creative and sales staff who helped him deliver The Drive over the years but was just as willing to let them go for the benefit of themselves. My such moment came two years later, when he told me I had to meet with a buddy of his about an opportunity that could not be passed up. “I hate to lose you Bro,” he said. “But you have got to do this!”
That friend was Paul St. Pierre. And for those who know us and some of the things we do at LFX, well, as the saying goes, the rest is history. And all considerably because David Hunter thought of another ahead of himself.
Ten years later, when Hunts and The Drive came under the Landscape Effects’ banner, it was a cool moment for both of us – Hunts now part of what he helped me become a part of a decade earlier. Not surprisingly, after a brief detour along the way, Hunts proceeded to take The Drive to a whole new level, cranking out quality issues after another and launching a string of successful spin-off titles.
Yet internally, Dave struggled; Those closest to him knew that and tried to help and support him any way we could. He and I talked often – mostly about life and keeping things simple. Enjoying and loving the only things that really mattered: Family, Loved Ones, the stuff that makes you happy. Dave tried. Deep down, I know he really did.
The Saturday morning after his passing, I was driving to Rochester Place to meet – and cry a little with our mutual friend. There’d been little sleep the night before, but rather an assortment of “why’s” mixed with a whole lot of “Love You Hunts.” Without thought, I randomly grabbed the first hat I saw from the closet before jumping in the truck. As “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” purposely played in Hunts’ honour, I again asked for a sign, but this time from Dave himself. Just that he was okay, that he was at peace, and already making Heaven’s souls laugh aloud. At that moment, I noticed the hat I was wearing: an LA Dodger variation, with a big white singular “D.” I started laughing, tears of joy now mixing with the sad ones. “D” Hunter was there, and he was okay. Just like He’ll always be with all of us. Every time we hear a favourite song that still kicks ass. Every time we laugh so hard sides start to hurt. Every time we do something decent for each other. Hunts is with us. Tongue out, rock-on sign rocking, and yes, a hand most likely on the crotch too.
Thanks Hunts, and Shine On You crazy, Loving, and beautiful Diamond. We will miss you so, Friend. And will Love and remember You forever.